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The Ring Thing - Ring Designs for Modern Times

Lydia Courteille's Red Gem Knuckle Ring from the Scarlet Empress Collection
Lydia Courteille's Red Gem Knuckle Ring from the Scarlet Empress Collection

Nowadays there is a diverse choice of finger jewelry, rather than simple gemstone rings that encircle one upper finger. Rings can now encompass more than one finger, spread across and along the fingers, decorate the area between the finger, encircle the forefinger or even be joined to hand decorations. Moreover, rings do not need to be stiff, but may be made from flexible chains, or be joined by chains or hinges. This allows for greater flexibility of designs and draws attention to the hands like never before.

Midi Rings - Rings That Circle the Forefinger

Midi rings are rings that encircle the forefinger. Many midi rings are quite narrow and dainty gold or silver bands. Narrow bands help to accentuate the length of the fingers, whereas wide bands can tend to make the upper finger and arms appear wide. Midi rings may be simple bands or can have interesting shapes, such as a chevron, a knot or swirls. Midi rings that are set with gemstones tend to have a small center stone, or a line of small accent stones. This may be because the forefinger is not the most convenient place to wear a large gemstone, which could get in the way of everyday activities. Some midi rings are sold as sets and others are attached by a chain to a matching ring that is worn higher on the finger. Such rings are also sometimes called "knuckle rings", since they go over the mid-finger knuckle.

Knuckle and Full Finger Rings

There are three knuckles on each finger; those that join the finger to the hand, the joint in the middle of the finger and the joint nearest to the fingernail. This means that the definition of "knuckle ring" varies depending on which finger joints the ring is worn over or next to. There are various types of knuckle rings, from brass knuckle duster type jewelry for men and women that is worn nearest to the palm, to pairs of dainty rings joined by a chain which goes over the middle finger knuckle. Some knuckle rings are made entirely from chain and others have chains that drape over fingers or the top of the hand. Chain knuckle rings allow for ease of movement.

Bronze Unisex Full Finger Armoured Ring
Bronze Unisex Full Finger Armored Ring

A popular trend for knuckle rings is an armor design that has flexible joints allowing the finger to bend. Such knuckle rings usually go over the length of the finger. These are referred to as "full finger rings" and can be worn by both men and women. Some women's full finger rings have intricate filigree designs and are accented with gemstones. One particularly striking example of a colored gemstone knuckle ring is Lydia Courteille's "Scarlet Empress" knuckle ring (see, top image). This incredible creation showcases red rubies and red tourmaline in red tinted metal. This red metal makes the red gemstones glow in a dramatic new light.

Between the Finger Rings and Rings with Gaps

A recent trend is for rings that do not have a traditional head at the center, set with a gemstone, but instead have a central space with decorations on either side. These are known as "between the finger rings", since the gemstones or ornaments usually sit between the fingers. Between the finger rings sometimes sit over two or three fingers so that when they are worn, they give the appearance of one ring being worn whilst another ornament "floats" between the next two fingers, whilst being held securely on the fingers. When between the finger rings loop over the back of a single finger, the decorations tend to be large enough to anchor the ring in place. The latter type of ring is one of the innovative designs championed by Van Cleef & Arpels, who have several designs featuring pairs of flowers, butterflies and their signature Alhambra motifs, in precious metal and adorned with colored gemstones.

Black Diamond and Ruby "Temptation of Eve" Two Finger Ring by Stephen Webster
Black Diamond and Ruby "Temptation of Eve" Two Finger Ring by Stephen Webster

Multi-Finger Rings

Multi-finger rings spread across the fingers rather than down the finger like full finger rings. Some multi-finger rings take the form of knuckle duster type men's rings, and are decorated with skulls, spikes, letters or smooth, modern geometric shapes. Multi-finger rings tend to be worn at the base of the fingers in the traditional place where finger rings are worn. They may be molded into a single stiff jewelry item or joined by loose chains which drape over the hand or fingers. They also may incorporate between the finger gemstone ornaments. Multi-finger rings can fit over (or under) two fingers or more. They may be worn under one finger and over two, over two and across three, or various other ways. However, it is important to bear in mind that the more fingers that multi-finger rings go around, the more restricted the movement of the hand will be. Some of the most beautiful gemstone multi-finger rings are like jumbo cocktail rings, like one by Aida Bergsen, which is designed to fit over two fingers, with a huge central smoky quartz gemstone, surrounded by rubies, amethysts, sapphires, golden leaves and flowers, and a tsavorite garnet studded frog.

Wearers of colored gemstone rings need no longer be limited by conventions and can now enjoy a wonderful choice of finger jewelry. For those who like subtlety, a dainty midi ring is a good choice. If a little more glamour is required, a between the finger ring would be suitable. But when full-on bling is intended, the best choice would be a full-finger knuckle ring or a multi-finger ring, which are sure to demand attention.

  • First Published: July-14-2015
  • Last Updated: January-24-2019
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